Voters’ Guide: Ramsey County District 3

Longtime incumbent Janice Rettman is being challenged by Trista MatasCastillio for the District 3 seat on the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners. In District 4, incumbent Toni Carter is running unopposed. County commissioners serve four-year terms. 

Janice Rettman, incumbent

Janice Rettman has been on the Ramsey County Board since 1997, representing residents living in Falcon Heights and portions of St. Paul. Prior to that, she served more than 11 years on the St. Paul City Council, representing the North End, South Como and Como Park areas and part of the East Side.  She is also a past director of the St. Paul Housing Information Office and former chairwoman of the District 10 Community Council.  

Credentials and priorities

Rettman said, “Some of what I bring daily to the job includes but is not limited to the following: Experience at multiple levels of government, the ability to listen to citizens and formulate balanced policy based on differing needs, the ability to analyze minute detail in a $730 million budget.

Rettman also said she believes “people come first; people before politics. I am running to continue to be a voice for all people regardless of income or status. In doing so I will continue to make sure that there is equal access to services, and equal opportunities to be a part of the decision-making process, whether it is services, infrastructure like streets, policies, financing or new county investments or reinvestments, such as: 

  • Keeping property taxes down
  • Providing the best services that meet the needs of the community at the best price
  • Making sure that there is a return on our investment that benefits all members of the community when we invest taxpayer dollars or provide breaks
  • Providing affordable housing throughout the county
  • Training workforce of the future 
  • Continuing to engage citizens in the decision-making process  

To do this, I personally attend meetings, door knock and listen to residents to ensure that I am listening and accessible—when and where residents are available.

Favorite book or movie:

There are four movies that have been and are significant for me: Sound of Music, Working 9 to 5, Man of La Mancha and Coat of Many Colors. Each has the theme of dreaming to be the best you can be and then going for it; and enjoying and fostering the faith that can sustain yourself through the good and the bad times and the courage when taking a stand to do what is right and the courage to live it!

 (For more information, visit Rettman’s campaign website at

Trista MatasCastillio, challenger 

Trista MatasCastillo is a mother, a wife, a veteran, and a vocal advocate, over the years, for issues such as affordable housing, homelessness, mental health, disability services, autism research, urban agriculture and veterans’ services. Her career has included U.S. Navy, Army National Guard, community organizer for Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity and founder of the Homes for ALL Coalition. She said her difficulties in navigating the county’s social services on a behalf her son Hunter is what motivate her to run for county commissioner. 

MatasCastillio said these are her top priorities for the county: 

1. Housing: Having a Place to Call Home

We have a housing crisis in the Twin Cities, which not only harms our poorest residents but damages our competitiveness regionally and nationally. I’m committed to ensuring more families have access to high quality housing they can afford. I will work to ensure the county is securing affordable ownership opportunities and partner with local elected officials and others to build and restore more housing throughout my district.


2. Economic Development: Building a Working Economy

We need to work closely with St. Paul and Falcon Heights to bring quality living-wage jobs and development throughout the district.


3. Transit for all

Building transportation networks that work for all of us is key to staying competitive in a time when employers and residents are increasingly looking for places that are more walkable, bikeable, and transit-connected. I will be a champion for Ramsey County’s recent All-Abilities Transportation Network policy, and I will work hard to bring improved and expanded transit throughout my district.


Favorite book or movie:

Little Bee by Chris Cleave. A favorite passage reads, “On the girl’s brown legs there were many small white scars. I was thinking, Do those scars cover the whole of you, like the stars and the moons on your dress? I thought that would be pretty too, and I ask you right here please to agree with me that a scar is never ugly. That is what the scar makers want us to think. But you and I, we must make an agreement to defy them. We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived.”

Ramsey County District 4 

Toni Carter, incumbent, Democratic-Farmer Labor Party.  Carter has no official opposition.  

Priorities and credentials: Neighbors and friends, I’m very happy to serve as your District 4 Ramsey County commissioner, and I am excited to be running again in 2018. I look forward to continuing the conversations we’ve begun to ensure that the political system is a true partner to elevate the real common good and restore the promise of equal opportunity for everyone.

As District 4 Ramsey County commissioner, I am leading system change for effectiveness and equity in:
— Cradle-to-career education and opportunities
— Strong families and communities

— 21st-century transportation
— Healthy and sustainable environments
— Economic security for all

Favorite movie: Thanks to my grandkids, I’ve really enjoyed watching Coco with them!



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